Louis Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!”
On “Hello, Dolly!”, the narrator/singer is actually addressing a fictional character by the full name of Dolly Gallagher Levi. She is the lead in a musical which shares the same name as the song. And as can be ascertained from the lyrics she is a very excitable figure, the life of the party so to speak.
In fact the male vocalist doesn’t come off as being an actual romantic interest of Dolly’s. But there is a reason he is celebrating her. And this is because she has the type of personality that lights up a room, particularly a party-like setting, upon which this song is set. And apparently, as implied at the beginning of the tune, she has been away from the scene for some time.
But according to the vocalist, being at the center of a party is where she in fact ‘belongs’. And as expected, upon her return she is “glowing” and making the venue lively even after an extended absence. And the singer, apparently being fond of partying himself, is really happy that she’s back due to those very reasons.
Moreover there are other individuals, particularly “fellas” it would seem, of the same disposition. In fact it is such that even now while rejoicing Dolly’s return, they’re simultaneously dreading her bouncing again. So Satchmo closes out the song by assuring them all that this time around “she’ll never go away”.
So again, this piece serves as a plot device in a particular musical/film. And the implication would be that at some point during said production, the ever-eccentric Dolly is separated from her regular company only to be joyfully reunited with them once again.
Facts about “Hello, Dolly!”
This song is actually derived from a musical that is also entitled Hello, Dolly! Said production came out in 1964. It was scored by Jerry Herman, who accordingly is the writer of the tune.
Herman (1931-2019) was a songwriter who worked primarily on Broadway. And he was involved in a number of hit musicals, including La Cage aux Folles (1983). He ultimately went on to be a Kennedy Center Honor recipient in 2010.
As such, the first person to sing this song was actually a Broadway star by the name of Carol Channing (1921-2019), who originally took on the titular character.
Louis Armstrong’s version came out that same year, being part of an entire album he put out which itself is entitled Hello, Dolly! And apparently said undertaking has nothing to do with the musical itself outside of the utilization of its theme song.
However, it should be noted that the musical was entitled Hello, Dolly as a direct result of Armstrong’s rendition of this song. That is to say that beforehand, the working title of the show was actually “Call on Dolly”. But then once its producer, David Merrick (1911-2000), got a gander of Louis’s Hello, Dolly, he rather changed the name of the entire production to reflect that particular song. So the implication would be that even though this became the theme song of the play, it wasn’t originally intended to be so.
Also the entire aforementioned Hello, Dolly! album was a direct result of Kapp Records wanting to capitalize on the success of the song itself.
Success of “Hello, Dolly!”
And by all indications Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) did an outstanding job, as “Hello, Dolly!” also became his own signature song. And that’s saying a lot for a man who was musically active for over half a century and is considered to be one of the greatest musicians of all time.
Out of all the singles he’s dropped throughout the years, Hello, Dolly! was the only to earn him a Grammy Award, specifically in the category of Male Vocal Performance, in 1965. That same year his rendition also resulted in Jerry Herman taking home the Song of the Year trophy. But that said, it should also be stated that Satchmo has had over 10 of works inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame itself.
And this song was a big hit on the charts also. For instance, it scored three-consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number ones over 14 straight weeks. In doing so, it knocked The Beatles out of the top spot. And in accomplishing said feat, even well into the 21st century, Armstrong holds the record of being the oldest artist ever to have topped the Hot 100. More specifically, he was nearing 63 years of age when this song reached number one on the chart.
More Interesting Facts
And users of the content-management system WordPress can also likely attest to the 21st century popularity of this song. And why? This is because when creating a new site with the platform, a plugin called Hello Dolly, which is associated with the song, is already installed therein.
Also to note, there is actually a film version of Hello, Dolly!, starring Barbra Streisand, that came out in 1969. And Armstrong did appear in said movie, portraying the role of an orchestra leader who performs this song.
This track was released by a label called Kapp Records. And the president of said label, Michael Kapp (1930-2019), was its producer.
Interesting to note is that initially, Jerry Herman was not overly excited at the prospect of Louis Armstrong covering his song. And for the record, Satchmo recorded the tune during early-December, 1963. And even he himself, though opting to do so, wasn’t particularly fond of Hello, Dolly! In fact according to his bassist, Arvell Shaw (1923-2002), Louis had literally forgotten about the song, despite having already recorded it. The song remained forgotten until audiences at his shows began demanding that he play it.